Just about everyone has seen these mushrooms in the supermarket; these are not the grown on top of a bottle en masse 100 yen variety, these are THOSE mushrooms that leave the unitiated wondering what kind of mushroom could possibly be worth 2000 yen or more? Next time you see them, I suggest you pick them up and smell them. They are very, very fragrant, and are often equated to truffles in their ability to add a distinct and delicious flavor to dishes prepared with them.
If you are interested in trying this autumn treat, I found a nice recipe for Matsutake Risotto that should do the trick for you. It does not require a lot of mushrooms, and would make a lovely appetizer to a great meal.
Matsutake Mushroom Risotto
serves 4 as an appetizer
4 cups kombu dashi
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tbs minced shallots
6 ounces fresh matsutake mushrooms thoroughly cleaned
1 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon unsalted cultured butter
1 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cups sake
5 oz Carnaroli rice
2 tablespoons panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/2 ounce parmigiano reggiano, grated
1 tablespoon unsalted cultured butter
Prepartion: Soak an 8″x 2″ piece of dashi kombu (dashi kelp) in cold water overnight or reconstitute powdered dashi in water according to the package directions to make 4 cups of kombu dashi. Put the dashi and salt into a saucepan and heat until steam rises from the surface. Cut the stem from the cap of the mushrooms. Julienne the stems into matchsticks. Slice the caps into 1/8″ thick pieces.
Add the sake and stir until it has evaporated, then add two ladles of dashi and stir constantly until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding dashi 1 ladle at a time, stirring constantly until the rice has reached a texture you’re happy with. Stop at about 3 1/2 cups for al dente risotto.
While the risotto is cooking, heat a second pan and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Fry the matsutake caps until they are browned and season lightly with salt and pepper. Transfer the mushroom to a plate, then add the remaining tablespoon of butter. Add the panko and toast the breadcrumbs in the butter, stirring constantly until they are golden brown. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
When the risotto is done, add the cheese and butter and stir until they are incorporated. Taste for salt and more if necessary. Plate the risotto and top with the sauteed matsutake caps and toasted bread crumbs.